Arabian Nights – Dreams on Paper

Islamic architecture has always been a great source of inspiration for me, but it has always been difficult for me to truly capture the essence of these magnificently hypnotic architectural marvels. A cornerstone of this architecture is the Girih (Persian for ‘knots’), which are essentially tiling patterns prominently displayed on the walls, pillars, as well as on the convex of the domes. These mesmerizing tessellations are formed with a few basic tile patterns repeated over and over again. You can find examples of these all across the globe including the Middle East, India, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Spain and Turkey.

I seem to have a special bond with Girih and I cannot stop myself from taking a photograph wherever I spot this pattern. Below, are some photos that I have taken while possessed with the Girih Djinn.

I am no painter and I know it; what I do get, however, is paper, and how one can create spectacular designs using it. So to realize this dream of mine, I resorted to Scherenschnitte, the German art of paper-cutting to make some Girih patterns. These patterns have painstakingly been 100% hand-cut (if you look closely, you might be able to spot the flaws), but it was all worthwhile. Hope you enjoy feasting your eyes on them as I enjoyed cutting them.

Serene Supplication – Handcut on card-stock

Serene Suplication – side view

Serene Supplication – the praying man

Arabesque – Handcut on card-stock

Arabesque – close-up

Arabian Nights – Handcut on card-stock

Arabian Nights – close-up


4 thoughts on “Arabian Nights – Dreams on Paper

    • Fractals have always fascinated me; too bad the pattern evolves in complexity as the number of iterations increases. Cutting them would be madness.


    • Thank you for the kind words. The skill is developing, slowly but surely; it’s the patience I’m running out of – ergo, the laser cutter. 😀

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